St. Charles Library Board hires search firm to find next library director

Edith Craig resigned last month

The St. Charles Library Board has hired an executive search firm to help find the next director for the St. Charles Public Library.

At their meeting Wednesday, trustees unanimously voted to hire library consulting firm Deiters and Todd, which specializes in executive director searches and board development, at a cost of $13,000.

Last month, St. Charles Public Library Director Edith Craig submitted her resignation letter announcing that she’s stepping down after more than five years in her position. Her last day was at the end of April. Craig was hired in September 2016 at an annual starting salary of $108,000.

The library board put out a request for proposals. Deiters and Todd responded to the RFP, along with Bradbury Miller, the search firm the board used following the resignation of St. Charles library director Pam Leffler in February 2016. The board hired Craig to replaced her.

The Library Board hopes to hire a new director by the fall.

“We liked what the last firm did,” Library Board President Robert Gephart said after the meeting. “Edith turned out to be a great director for us. The other firm is out of town, in Ohio. This is two guys that are local here in the Chicagoland area.”

Alex Todd, a partner in the firm, has been the executive director of the Prospect Heights Public Library District since 2012 and Jim Deiters is currently the deputy director at the Joliet Public Library.

Gephart said hiring somebody from the area would be advantageous.

“I’m not ruling out somebody from out of the area,” Gephart said. “But it would be helpful to have somebody that is from the Chicagoland area. The transition would be easier.”

In her time as director, Craig oversaw the $18.6 million renovation and expansion of the library, which opened to the public in July 2021. Last summer, the majority of employees at the library filed to form a union through the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31.

Earlier this year, the library closed to in-person visits for more than two weeks after threats were made against employees for following the state’s indoor mask requirements that were in place at the time.

A group of more than three dozen people in January protested the library’s decision to follow the statewide indoor mask mandate. Employees also received “hundreds of communications” some that included threatening comments, officials previously said.

Many of these communications and posts threatened a form of physical retaliation against the library, including statements that unmasked large groups would enter the library, according to a post on the library’s website.

When it reopened its doors in early February, a security guard was put in place at the library’s entrance to enforce the COVID mask policy.

Craig’s hiring sparked controversy among some staff members because she did not have previous experience as a library director. In an email to the library’s staff after Craig was hired, then-board president Tory Haines acknowledged that one of the staff members’ major concerns was her lack of experience as a director.

“The board placed experience very low on our list of priorities,” Haines’ email in response to staff concerns at the time had stated. “Our previous director had a stellar resume and a wealth of experience, but was not a good fit for our library.”